Columnist Barry Saunders creates unique, daring style through writing
by Annie Booz
Barry Saunders is man who is not afraid to share his opinions; no matter what criticism he may receive. Through his work in the world of journalism, Saunders has made a name for himself.
His journalism career started in 1979 with the Atlanta Constitution where he was a copyboy and an obit writer. Saunders said writing in the obituary section taught him to always know the facts, and always to triple-check his work.
Later, he returned to his hometown to work for the Richmond County Daily Journal in Rockingham, North Carolina. Saunders also has started up some newspapers of his own, including the Saunders Syndicated News Service in Washington, D.C. and the Richmond County North Star in Rockingham.
Saunders has now been an award-winning columnist with The News & Observer in Raleigh for the past 23 years.
Throughout his career, Saunders has created a unique-style of his own. He is known for his unpredictable stories.
“Barry has a gift for framing events that he wants to comment on in unusual ways,” said Professor Mike Yopp, who previously was Saunders’ boss at the News & Observer. “He’s become more daring, which is rare for a columnist. Many peak quickly then go to extremes to stay up top, but Barry did not have to do that.”
Saunders has a reputation as the most loved and hated columnist the News & Observer has. Over the years, he has received many complaints from readers about his opinions.
“I don’t think I’ve done my job if one person doesn’t cuss me out,” said Saunders.
Many of Saunders’ columns from 1999 to 2005 are featured in his book, And the Horse You Rode in On, Saunders. The columns consist of his reviews of the events, people and places that made the news in North Carolina in the earliest years of the 21st century.
“Barry does his own reporting, which gives him insight that many columnists don’t have,” said Yopp.
On July 10, Saunders met with the Chuck Stone Scholars at UNC-Chapel Hill to discuss his career in journalism and answer questions from the rising high school seniors. The Chuck Stone program is based on raising awareness for diversity in Education and Media. One student asked Saunders why diversity is so crucial in the media.
“We need diversity in the news so not everyone is approaching stories from the same viewpoint,” said Saunders. “Journalists help set the discourse of this country.”
Another student asked if it is okay for journalists to change their opinions. Saunders responded by telling the students to not be bound today by the opinions and thoughts they may have had yesterday.
Saunders encouraged the scholars to find a job they enjoy, no matter how impulsive or unstable it may be.
“The glamour can fade; choose a job you love,” said Saunders.